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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2018
It was a present from my son for our birthdays. The food was A+ and the service was A+. I have Crohn's and could not leave the ship very often. I wish they would have had a shuttle once we got to Lyon to get to the shopping areas. ... Read More
It was a present from my son for our birthdays. The food was A+ and the service was A+. I have Crohn's and could not leave the ship very often. I wish they would have had a shuttle once we got to Lyon to get to the shopping areas. The views were beautiful from the top deck and the waiters treated you like royalty. The wines were fantastic - every meal. Go, enjoy and love what you see in France. Avignon was my favorite place to visit. I did get to go there and it was superb. The people all treat you fantastic in France. I LOVED the people. If you enjoy sightseeing and shopping this is the cruise for you. Be ready to be pampered. I would love to do another cruise in Italy if they had one, but as of now, they do not. Thanks for all you have given my family. Mihai - the waiter was the highlight of my cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2018
Viking was highly recommended by friends, and a river cruise you get to see many different towns near the river, and the tour guides tell you the history of each stop. The nice thing about a river cruise is that you have not only the ... Read More
Viking was highly recommended by friends, and a river cruise you get to see many different towns near the river, and the tour guides tell you the history of each stop. The nice thing about a river cruise is that you have not only the hotel, all the meals, and the tour guides for each port. Relaxing, it was not, because each morning you were up early, first to get your breakfast, then to get ready for your guided tour, most tours started at 9am. Then after the tour, back to the ship for lunch. Sometimes the were tours in the afternoon right after lunch. Some tours ended up quite late, so the dinner was a late one. We saw a lot, however, despite the busy schedule. Regarding the shore excursions, some of the guides were very difficult to understand, especially with their heavy french accent. The cabin was rather small, but considering that this was a river ship, it was adequate for us as we are small, but for large people it would be rather very compact, especially the shower. The service was great. Dining was good, especially the breakfast and lunch buffets. We were disappointed with the quality of the dinners, as for a ship of this caliber, the dinners could use some improvement. The entertainment was not like in the ocean cruises, we had one or two outside singers/entertainers for the whole week. There was a ship piano player every night. We opted to include air as part of the package; From Northern California. Viking did a fabulous job of organizing the whole trip, from getting the airfare to providing transportation to the ship, and meeting us with Viking personnel at the airports. We are already booked on another Viking cruise, an ocean cruise to the British Isles, Ireland and Scotland. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2016
I wanted to go to Avignon and wasn't disappointed. The other ports of call Vienne, Lyon, Arles, etc. were lovely and interesting. The winery excursion was interesting and fun. Really all of the excursions were excellent - the tour ... Read More
I wanted to go to Avignon and wasn't disappointed. The other ports of call Vienne, Lyon, Arles, etc. were lovely and interesting. The winery excursion was interesting and fun. Really all of the excursions were excellent - the tour guides were knowledgeable and entertaining. The dining room crew in particular were excellent. Viking is organized and attentive to detail so that everything runs seamlessly. The cabin was nice and pretty much as expected. Everyone on board seemed to be focused on ensuring a great trip for every passenger. The dining room crew, in particular, were excellent -- they helped to make meals fun. The food was great - I do recommend the drinks package. As mentioned earlier the dining room personnel were beyond excellent and attentive. One major issue - a virus - was addressed quickly but could have been communicated better. I will definitely try another river cruise and am looking forward to planning one in 2018, Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2015
We went on the Portraits of Southern France cruise on October 11, 2015. It was our 3rd Viking Cruise, and we have one more booked and others in planning. In short, we love Viking. In fact, our trip to China with them (May 2015) was the ... Read More
We went on the Portraits of Southern France cruise on October 11, 2015. It was our 3rd Viking Cruise, and we have one more booked and others in planning. In short, we love Viking. In fact, our trip to China with them (May 2015) was the best vacation we've ever taken, and we've been on 39 other vacations to foreign countries. But, now you know a little bit about us, a couple near 70, let me go over some of my thoughts about our France trip, which included a 3-day post-extension to Paris with Viking. The best part, as it always is on the Viking cruises, were the people we met. With open seating at the long, leisurely meals and with a small ship, meeting people becomes very easy to do, and the Viking travelers are quite varied in (generally retired) occupations and home towns. We made many good friends. Our tour director Julian was wonderful. The best things about him were his humor as well as his clear explanations of many choices we had each day. Actually the most fun we had on the cruise were a couple of crazy group games Julian lead on two nights. We all laughed hard as we competed vigorously in competitions that as best I can remember had no prizes whatsoever. The rest of the crew were fantastic and the service was great. They made us really feel at home. Ok, so you are expecting in a review to hear about places, not people. It's the wrong thing to look for, but I'll humor you by listing the cities visited in order of how much we enjoyed them. And, I'll throw a couple non-cities into the mix. They are (with the best first): Lyon, Avignon, Cruising on the rivers, Cluny, Paris, Auxerre, Beaune, Vienne, Steam train, Arles and Tournon. The food at breakfast, as it is on every Viking cruise, is always fantastic. The lunches and dinners on this cruise were a bit hit-and-miss but definitely mainly hits. The local guides varied widely. The best, as the guide in Vienne, knew how to entertain and to tell stories. The worse, as the guide in Paris, tried to machine-gun facts into our ears as rapidly as dryly as possible lest we fail the pop quiz that they appeared to be preparing us for. Sometimes, I turned off the headset and admired the wonderful views all around us. Viking could use a good guide training program. Overall we had an absolutely wonderful time. There were only two major drawbacks. One, don't go in the fall or later unless you have to. In mid-October, we frequently froze with temps starting in the upper 30s many days and only warming up to the 40s. We wore down jackets and sometimes thermal underwear. More than the cold, the skies were mainly overcast, which can turn pretty landscapes into pretty dreary landscapes. Second, until Viking changes hotels from the Pullman Paris Tour Eiffel, don't book the Paris extension. The room was tiny and in bad shape and had all the charm and uncomfortable furniture of a college dorm room. The breakfast room was hot, in a windowless basement with mediocre food and coffee that was never, ever hot. A terrible way to start each day. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2015
The longship accommodation was excellent bearing in mind limited space and my partner and I had no trouble in storing clothes and belongings. The food was excellent and always well presented. It was never of the "steak and ... Read More
The longship accommodation was excellent bearing in mind limited space and my partner and I had no trouble in storing clothes and belongings. The food was excellent and always well presented. It was never of the "steak and chips" variety although we did have a beautifully tender "chateaubriand" one night. The excursions were well planned and organised and very interesting. The lady who took us round Cluny was a quite brilliant communicator and very knowledgeable. The captain and staff were charming and always helpful. My only complaints were the fault of "Head Office"s lack of communication. You failed to tell us that we could have had three days to start with on the "cote d'azure" You changed the time of the first outward plane because we did not have time to make the connection at Schiphol: this resulted in us setting off at 3.00am and hanging about in Amsterdam for three hours. On the return journey at Lyon no-one explained that the coach could not enter the airport and had to stop at the TGV train station. You can imagine the confusion this caused. I was the only one in the group who spoke French and fortunately could grasp the situation and what needed to be done! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2015
This was my 2nd river cruise with Viking and I have already booked my next one with them. Boat and service was up to the normal Viking standard, very good. Viking didn't recognise that we were 2nd time travellers. We were told ... Read More
This was my 2nd river cruise with Viking and I have already booked my next one with them. Boat and service was up to the normal Viking standard, very good. Viking didn't recognise that we were 2nd time travellers. We were told we would find something in our room. It was sent to another room, when it did turn up it was a bottle of the same free wine that we had been drinking all week. The last port we docked at was Chalon-sur-Saone, which is a very nice town, but we docked in a unused run down port. Opposite the boat when we docked was a make shift bar that looked very rough. People I spoke to on our trip also felt like myself, which was uneasy to be in this area and didn't want to go for a walk after dinner, and it is a quite a walk into town. Other boats of the same size were using the water edge dock nearer the town centre. We booked this cruise after looking at out flight times, but Viking gave us later flights. On the walking tour of Lyon we had a local guide who seem to know very little about the town and seem to keep looking at her mobile. I am hoping the next trip is of a better standard. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2015
This was our second river cruise - first on Viking. We were luckier than a lot of people in that we had excellent weather and no problems with locks or high water, etc. Would not cruise the Rhône again - quite industrial with many locks ... Read More
This was our second river cruise - first on Viking. We were luckier than a lot of people in that we had excellent weather and no problems with locks or high water, etc. Would not cruise the Rhône again - quite industrial with many locks and not as pretty as the Seine. The transfers were excellent; the ship was very nice; cabins comfortable; service excellent and the included side trips were fine; we also did not have much access to the sun deck - and the outside seating area at the bow of the ship is quite small. Dining - oh what a disappointment. We were looking forward to local dishes and wines - not so. The buffet lunch consisted every day of pasta tossed with olive oil, spinach and tomatoes - with accompanying salads - every day. Dinners were hit and miss - Quality and quantity just not there - seems that Viking was trying to cut corners - at least on this ship. Breakfasts were good - eggs cooked to order, smoked salmon. Cheeses, cold cuts, etc. The complimentary wines were inferior. Definitely below expectations. We spent three days in Paris at the end of the cruise at the Meridien Etoile - nice room and very central to the metro and the Air France office across the street - very kindly pointed out to us by Bernard, Viking's host at the hotel. Convenient to walk across the street to print out boarding passes and check seats. Our transfer from hotel to de Gaulle airport was brilliant - our Viking host was on top of everything and stayed with us until we went through security. No standing in line whatsoever. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2014
Although all details of our outward and homeward journeys from and to Bristol went according to plan, felt that as we lived in Bristol and had an airport that flew direct to Marseille, the fact that we had to go via Amsterdam which ... Read More
Although all details of our outward and homeward journeys from and to Bristol went according to plan, felt that as we lived in Bristol and had an airport that flew direct to Marseille, the fact that we had to go via Amsterdam which incorporated 2 flights each way was definitely not in our best interest. The 'Buri' was indeed all that we had hoped for and more in that it was kept immaculately clean and well maintained and the staff were all very friendly and willing to help in any way they could. The food was definitely all that we had anticipated with wine flowing freely during lunch and dinner periods. We had previously spent a river cruise on the Rhine not with Viking, and were disappointed that when we docked we then had to be coached to places of interest, whereas on the Rhine we actually docked at the places of interest and were able to wander at will and not constantly being put onto coaches. The guides that were provided for these on shore excursions were excellent and very knowledgeable, and although my husband is hard of hearing, with the 'walkie talkie' devices we were given, he was able to heard all the relevant information, which certainly helped with his enjoyment of this holiday. However, we were not impressed that the sun deck was not accessible for quite a large amount of the time we were on board,and also that the latter part of our 'cruise' we were berthed in Lyon and had to be coached to the latter destination as the ship couldn't navigate under the bridges owing to the swollen river! We felt that the Viking ships were too large for this particular river and would have been better being one deck less, thus allowing people to enjoy the advertised river cruise and not glorified coach trip. Perhaps a suggestion to remedy this complaint might be to make use of local day excursion boats instead of coaches, thus still having a river view of the surrounding countryside. Our friends had paid £800 more than us for a balcony and spent 3 days not being able to pull their curtains back as we were moored alongside another Viking ship until such time as the river allowed the inside ship to sail. and their cabin looked directly into the other ship, which reading other reviews appears to be a common complaint. All in all we did enjoy the trip - staff and ship first class, but feel that the above issues do need to be resolved before we will be taking a cruise with Viking again, or in fact any river cruise line if this is common practice. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2014
We've just completed Viking's Portraits of Southern France on Viking Hermod (south to north). It was mostly enjoyable but the weakest out of our six European cruises. We really enjoyed the friendly passenger mix of US, Canada and ... Read More
We've just completed Viking's Portraits of Southern France on Viking Hermod (south to north). It was mostly enjoyable but the weakest out of our six European cruises. We really enjoyed the friendly passenger mix of US, Canada and several from Great Britain making for good conversation and company. The ship: Hermod was lovely as is usual with Viking's ships. Not enough seating in the lounge however and we had to stand several nights at the pre-dinner talk along with many others who stood or skipped the activity. Husband found the cabin fine but I did not like the tiny window (too dirty to view from this cruise) and increased ship noise. In general, I do not like the cabin size in the new Viking French balcony rooms (same on lower deck even though they list them as larger - must include the high shelf space in front of the window?) which have no space on either side of the bed and a useless bedside shelf where bedding easily swipes anything off of it. Room and bed comfort and closet and storage space (improved from first longboats) are otherwise very nice. Everything in the cabin worked well and the plugs are numerous and very handy. Internet: Very poor. I was surprised because we'd heard that it had improved this year. We had trouble even getting on for several of the days with both an i-Pad and a Samsung tablet. So did others around us. Unusable in the lower cabins but also very poor upstairs. It seems that the antennae is lowered often on this cruise and the signal is not a strong one at the best of times. The crew: The crew with one exception were friendly, enthusiastic and went out of their way to be helpful. The front desk and dining room staff were especially good as was the Chief Engineer. He always had a moment to interact with passengers and we enjoyed his company the most. The program director might be good at organizing but is not a people person. His talks were short, data driven and included little other than what was in Viking's written material. He did not enjoy or encourage questions. We found his lack of enthusiasm affected our choices of activities. This is the first trip that we haven't done most or all of the optional tours - this trip we did none because they seemed boring before we even signed up after listening to his brief, dry descriptions. We hope they were better than that. The room stewards were terrific with very fast laundry service and everything onboard was sparkling clean except cabin windows (on the outside). We had trouble seeing out with all the bird and waterspots on our lower deck window (worse than other ships) and they weren't touched the entire trip. We didn't dock often next to another ship and that was a big plus or would have been if we could see out. The food: Very good. The chef and his crew were quite skilled at presentation and did a good job. All the meat we saw was rare even when ordered otherwise (we find this the usual case on board V ships). We do find Viking's standardized menus a bit predictable and how can they not have fresh, from scratch pastry when in France!?! What a waste of opportunity to please and impress. The entertainment: Lacking. Before I start, we really enjoyed the pianist. He was wonderful. Talks were not inspiring. The cooking demonstration was appreciated but very simple and not special for being in France. Evening entertainment was almost non existent this trip. We were really spoiled on our Christmas Douro trip with two lunches included off the ship and two dinners off the ship which added so much atmosphere and felt very special with the entertainment offered at each as well as onboard. This trip had the least special touches of our six cruises. The itinerary: Great potential but mostly unrealized. Too much time was spent getting from airport to ship at both ends of the trip. The airport greeter was just that - she was nice but only got us from the main lobby to the bus and then left for home. There was no help with luggage at the airport either direction. Another loss of meaningful time was that spent in getting to and from destinations from uninspiring docking points. There was little sightseeing where docked and even less information given about options. The south to north itinerary seems negatively affected with some of the more appealing optional tours unavailable in this direction. Scheduling tours around the lunch meal (both morning and afternoon tours) back onboard was a real negative. Tours were continually rushed to get us back in time for lunch or dinner with insufficient free time other than the scheduled stops. The few choices where you could stay in town (some distance from the ship) were all day or nothing it seemed. We would have loved to stay in town for lunch and have an hour or two to explore rather than have to stay all day or nothing. We like a little time to relax before dinner and this itinerary did not allow for good choices. This itinerary offers nothing extra and nothing that felt special especially south to north. Arles' free time was only shopping in a gift shop at the Van Gogh hospital stop unless you chose to stay the entire day. Tain l'Hermitage's free time was only at the chocolate shop. Our favorite stop here was the Musee Pierre Palue. Beaune's free time was so short we had to skip the wine tasting to even have time for a cup of chocolate in a local cafe. Avignon's free time was also short but it was one of the few places we could walk back to the ship on our own which we did. Lyon's free time was on a holiday so stores, etc. were closed and we didn't know that until the night before. The restaurant recommendations were all very high priced in Lyon. We really missed the previous Viking system with a program director and a couple of assistants who usually stayed with each group in addition to the local guides. Our previous program director's were more hands-on and interactive with the passengers. The program director seemed to do little other than take a few photos and discouraged questions at his short presentations. The new concierge system seems lacking in value even though she was nice. Note that the upper decks is most often closed on this cruise due to the numerous very low bridges on the river. One in particular we were holding our breath when we went under and the chief engineer was on the stairs watching inch by inch to make sure we cleared. I don't know what they do if there is rain that brings up the water level. The local guides: We were very lucky with our local guides and each day they were the value added. They knew the locales, the stops and the local people at each. They shared their enthusiasm as well as their extensive knowledge. They made the trip for us and were the highlight each day. Without "great" guides our ratings would be lower. The air arrangements: We tried this for the first time using Viking's air arrangements. In spite of Viking's efforts, it was not something we want to do again unless we have to. They use a computerized system which does not take into account time for immigration, customs, terminal transfers for local to international, etc. Transfer times at airports (such as Paris) were too short and we found planes already boarding before we could even get to them while rushing all the way. We were especially displeased with having to arise before 5am in Lisbon to get to Marseille and our boat by 7pm -- we were routed Lisbon to London to Marseille. A direct flight is less than 2 1/2 hours and we chose the south to north route distinctly because there was a direct flight from our pre-cruise stay in Lisbon. Also we were not pleased with having to leave the ship before dawn because Viking backtracks so far to the airport at the end of the cruise. Thanks to Viking's efforts, we did enjoy entering the US through Seattle instead of San Francisco avoiding the usual nightmare. Delta reassigned our confirmed seats the week before we left on the trip necessitating upgrading our seats to avoid sitting next to the lavatory or in the back row. We felt trapped into this and wonder if that is Delta's usual way of handling discounted tickets in order to sell upgrades. The value: Because we got a good sale on the trip with air we felt we got our money's worth - sort of. We would rather have better discounts on the trip itself and leave the air arrangements to us. We did not feel that the itinerary or entertainment was up to Viking standards. We love France so we're disappointed that the trip felt so rushed and generic when such potential went unrealized. Viking can do better and, in our experience, usually does. Read Less
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